Study finds Canadians have many, varied levels of literacy

New findings about the reading ability of Canadian adults who are challenged by low lit­eracy underscore the extent and the complex nature of Canada’s literacy dilemma.
The study was released Jan. 9 and called Learning Literacy in Canada: Evidence from the International Survey of Read­ing Skills by Statistics Canada.
"This is a welcome study that begins to paint a fuller pic­ture of the nine million Cana­dian adults who struggle, to some degree, with low liter­acy," said Margaret Eaton, presi­dent of ABC CANADA. "It makes it clear that – unlike the often-held myth that we have scads of people who cannot read at all – Canada is populated by many people … with different reading and compre­hension needs."
The results of the 2005 Inter­national Study of Reading Skills (ISRS) which adminis­tered clinical reading tests to 1,585 English-speaking and 1,382 French-speaking Cana­dian adults, all of whom had participated in an earlier 2003 study that determined, in broad terms, the literacy levels of Canadian adults, age 16 to 65.
The new study considered the participants’ reading ability in terms of word recognition, vocabulary, listening compre­hension, and general reading processing skills. Knowing their proficiencies in these areas, the ISRS study was able to profile the specific learning needs of different groups of adults.
Further analysis will pro­vide more detail about the learn­ing needs of each group.
"Investments are critical… where too many adults do not possess the skills to realize their full potential and where Canada’s competi­tiveness is compromised," said Eaton.